Orange is the New Black: Thirsty Bird

"I think I've moved beyond stress into something more deeply disturbing."

Do you remember the pilot episode of this series? This second season premiere was "I Wasn't Ready", part two.

A month in the SHU made Piper spacey and miserable, although she got to hone her painting skills using egg yolk as her primary medium. But that was nothing compared to being yanked out of SHU and into a freezing bus in the middle of the night, getting dumped on a plane, and spending hours not knowing where she was going or what was going to happen to her. Not to mention five hours not being allowed to pee.

A brief segue. Although the unfair treatment of prisoners is obviously a part of the series, it was even more strongly emphasized in this episode. All those COs in full winter gear, and Piper had no coat or hat. The COs took pleasure in the cruelty of not telling Piper where she was going, or what had happened to Pennsatucky. One marshal did let her use the toilet, but he and another marshal kept glancing at her while she was doing it, and even instructed her to pee faster. It bothered me that basic safety measures on a plane were not for prisoners, and that the young prisoner who passed out was being forced to fly against her will when it terrified her.

Gold acting stars for Taylor Schilling, who rocked this wall-to-wall Piper episode. I was especially impressed with the scene where she told her seatmate Lolly about how she lost it with Pennsatucky and realized that there was a "there there" -- a darkness inside herself. (It scared the hell out of Lolly, too.)

Unit A, cell 21, bunk 5. OMG. Yoda the monster cockroach, dead he is. I knew the astrologically obsessed Mazall had to be trouble because she seemed so innocuous, and of course the dark side of the force inside her made her bite off and swallow her girlfriend's tongue. The toilet in the middle of the room was almost as bad. I kept imagining that actress being told she had a guest part on OitNB, and then finding out she would spend most of it taking a dump while singing "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman".

The way Piper dealt with all of this scary stuff was impressive, though. She kept her wits and composure when she woke up and Mazall was on top of her. She stepped back and let her new friend Lolly get beaten, probably in order to stay out of trouble. After catching a glimpse of Alex in the yard, Piper negotiated with the scary rapey guy from the plane who called her "First Class", and didn't hesitate to trade her four-day-old panties to get a note to Alex.

Seeing Alex was a relief for Piper, and frankly, for me too because it brought the story back to something more familiar -- the Piper/Alex dysfunctional dynamic. Piper, you have to lie on the stand because Kubra is deeply into revenge. Alex, I have to do the right thing for a change, because getting Pennsatucky out of Psych taught me nothing. But they obviously still care about each other -- or at least Piper still cares about Alex, because she wound up doing exactly what Alex told her to do. There was truth in Piper's voice when she said a bit dreamily that she had just been there for Alex, it was all about Alex, Alex was the love of her life.

And then Alex screwed Piper over again and testified against Kubra. Why? Did Alex get her sentence commuted? Will Alex's testimony hurt Piper, too? Was it just their way of screwing with us and writing Laura Prepon out for most of season two?

I was less impressed with the flashbacks to Piper as a child who was uncomfortable with breaking the rules, even to see the R-rated Dazed and Confused (talk about Most Obvious Symbolism). Piper's mother was a bubbly alcoholic who refused to hear that her husband was cheating, so young Piper learned how to lie. Which she did to her father on the phone when she was an adult, traveling around the world with her exotic drug-dealing girlfriend.

At the very least, Piper's experiences in Chicago will give her a new appreciation for Litchfield. Can we go back to Litchfield now?

Bits and pieces:

-- Piper's birth date is June 7, 1981. Happy thirty-third birthday today, Piper.

-- Pennsatucky is alive. Damn.

-- The woman with the razor blade was treated like a dog. She was told to "Sit. Stay" and she was forced to wear a muzzle as if she were a misbehaving pit bull.

-- The shot of the urine samples was unexpectedly funny because they were multicolored, and one of them was full to the brim.

-- During the pool scene flashback, Kubra looked at Piper with an odd expression on his face. There's usually a reason for that. I wonder if we've seen the last of Kubra? Probably not if he's deeply into revenge.

-- Did young Piper's hair look like a bad dye job, or was it me?

-- I honestly don't want to dwell on Piper carrying a two-inch cockroach in her bra. But the cockroach with the cigarette on its back showing up in solitary at the end was pretty funny.

-- The feminine hygiene reference was the inmate on the bus who told Piper she should have created a pee pad out of maxis.

-- This episode was directed by Jodie Foster. So was season one's Lesbian Request Denied. Which, come to think of it, also included a lot of pee.


Piper: "This is a yellow warbler drinking out of a daffodil."

Piper: "I still have basic human rights. You cannot put me on a mystery bus in the middle of the night and not tell me where I'm going."
Yes, they can.

CO: (sarcastically) "Can't say 'bitches' no more. It's degrading."

Marshal: (re: handcuffs) "Damn. Tight. You must have really pissed off whoever put these on."
Piper: "I was a demanding poochie."

Piper: "Are you going to tell us where we're going, or do you hand out blindfolds when we land?"

Male prisoner 1: "I see mountains. I think we're in the midwest."
Male prisoner 2: "Ain't no mountains in the midwest, dumb ass. There's plains and corn and a shit ton of white people who don't vote in their best interests."

Mazall: "They're pretty serious about their roaches."

Scary guy: "I'm a predator, bitch. Ain't no fun if you offer."
Piper: "Well, there's no place for you to violently assault me in private here, so what do you want?"

Piper: "He's a hitman? I thought he was a rapist. I'm so relieved."
Pooping inmate: "You're fucking weird."

Piper: "That means lying under oath."
Alex: "Jesus, it's so hard to keep up with what's black and white with you."

Alex: "There is no justice, Piper. Don't you know that by now?"

How would you rate this one, OitNB fans? How many Jedi cockroaches out of four?

Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.


Panda said...

I thought it was completely unusual to start the season out this way, but I didn't find myself missing Lichfield all that much, because I was enjoying everything else in Chicago just as much. I hope we get to see those people again, especially Lolly.

Heather said...

What an awesome review! I was going to watch *one episode* before bed last night and then it was 3am! The second season started off so strong. It was that 'just so' tragic frightening piercing funny moving mix that IS OITNB. And that line of dialogue on the plane with the two male inmates about the voters of the midwest--the show gets away with that TOO. Remarkable. Can't wait to read more!

sunbunny said...

I'm about halfway done with the season already. :)

Ugh I knew Alex was going to do that. Why does Piper believe a single word that comes out of that woman's mouth? I hate her so much I don't understand why so many of this show's fans just go gaga over her. I heard that they would be using Laura Prepon very sparingly this season. I wonder if she'll pop up again.

I've never even seen a cockroach.

rebecca_s921 said...

I found the change of scenery and the mystery of what's happening to Piper really ratcheted up the tension for me. I was very much missing the ladies of Litchfield, anxious about the new people she's met, wondering about the plot of the season, such that when Alex showed up there's an internal sigh of relief same as Piper must've felt.

As much as Alex' behavior is reprehensible, I still can't help root for Piper and Alex as a couple, however unhealthy that relationship may be. A part of my brain is worried that Piper would end up with longer sentence as a result of her perjury, though she was smart enough to make her response as nonspecific as she could. Logically if the show lasts a few more seasons and Piper's original sentence was 15 months, there has to be some way to keep her in prison or she'd be written out of the show.

ChrisB said...

What an interesting way to start the season. The fact that we didn't know what was happening either certainly ramped up the tension. Like you, I was relieved when Alex turned up.

I was mildly shocked that Alex lied like that. She seemed so sincere, but then I guess she usually does. I understand how Piper feels about her, but I am hoping this is the final straw. It's probably all too late as I can't imagine Larry's dad not telling his son what he heard.

I loved hearing Piper tell her dad that she learned everything from him. He heard only the good; we understand that she also learned the bad. Fantastic writing.

Billie Doux said...

Sorry about the delay in posting second season reviews. I really, really needed a writing break and of course, I had to binge-watch the entire second season. Reviews will start going up soon.

Josie Kafka said...

As much as I enjoy this show, and admire its craftsmanship, spending a lot of time with Piper is not a pleasurable experience for me. Her neuroticism is too much for me, especially as her conception of the "right thing" is really bizarre.

That's a backhanded compliment, in a way: Piper feels completely real. But she's really not someone I'd want to spend time with.